Everybody wants to get in on the genocide act, and
this time it's the Greeks. It's commonly believed the Turks set fire to their
own valuable city, as if that's exactly what they needed, with the monumental
task of nation-rebuilding ahead of them. Meanwhile, the invading Greeks
behaved in such a vile and barbaric manner, their own British sponsors
withdrew support. Here the Greeks were, with their backs to the sea, their
dreams of conquest destroyed... and they were about to "lose"
"Smyrna." Will they leave the city in one piece, especially keeping
in mind many of their own kind still lived in its borders, or will they take
one last stab at following what was their scorched-earth policy, during their
retreat from the Anatolian heartland?
Here is the commonly accepted
Western view, written by Nicholas Tanery:
After a systematic campaign of race extermination the Greeks
were also destroyed in Smyrna (renamed Izmir in 1930) by Turkish armies under
the command of Kemal Ataturk. Over a hundred thousand Greek civilians were
massacred in September 1922 under the watchful eyes of a 27 ship armada from
the USA, Britain, Italy and France. Smyrna was burned to the ground save for
the Standard Oil compound.
like "Constantinople," is Christian "code." The people of
the Ottoman Empire never referred to their cities by these names, for the
centuries these cities were under Turkish rule. The West's refusal to call
these cities by their actual names was, and still sometimes is, a nutty
attempt of claiming these cities don't really belong to the Turks.)
Incidentally, I've read in many
Western sources that only the Greek and Armenian quarters of the city were
burned, directly incriminating the Turks. Note that the anti-Turkish
writer above states the entire city was burned, save for the petroleum
compound. (As far as the oil... let's bear in mind the Turks had lost all
their oil regions by the end of 1918, and Turkey today is not an oil-producing
nation, to my knowledge.)
Note also the writer's claim that
a hundred thousand Greeks were massacred. Well, if the Turkish army had
nothing better to do amidst the fires of their burning city than to murder a
hundred thousand innocent souls ... which is a mighty big feat, even if a city
is not dangerously aflame... then what was the point of burning their valuable
city? (Authors such as Lord Kinross and Michael Llewellyn Smith -- the latter
blamed the Turks for the fire -- put the toll at 1,000-2,000.)
Greeks in particular should ask
themselves... if Ataturk was so inclined toward murdering civilians, why
didn't he ethnically cleanse the remainder of the Christian population, once
in control? Additionally, in studying Ataturk's character, Greeks in
particular should ask themselves... why did Venizelos nominate Ataturk for a
Peace Prize in the years that followed?
Obviously, either this view can be
right... or it can be wrong. Let's take a look at the following eyewitness
account... and then:
2) A 1923 article that appeared in the American
magazine, "The Nation": The Turkish Myth
3) A 1923 view from American writer, E. Alexander Powell
4) Stanford Shaw... on Izmir & Pontus
5) Impressions from THE BLIGHT OF ASIA
6) Dr. Georgios Nakratzas' Open Letter
7) A Response to N.Y. Gov. Pataki's Proclamation
American engineer Mark Prentiss
reports, following the introduction.
|Who Burned Izmir?
Armenians and Greeks were determined not to let this booty fall into the hands of
their hated enemies."
In 1920 Izmir
was given up to the Greeks by the Ottomans as part of a Peace agreement proposed by
Churchill. Although intended as an allied occupation under the armistice terms, it was in
fact a Greek occupation which quickly became an excuse to extend the boundaries of Greece
across the Aegean in accordance with the Greek dream of rejuvenating the Byzantine Empire.
In a three
week battle Ataturk threw the Greeks back into the sea, captured the Greek commanding
general and re-entered Izmir triumphant. The retreating Greek army massacred thousands of
Turkish families who were mostly women and children since their men were away at war.
Buildings were burned to the ground. Since then various allegations have been made trying
to implicate the Turks for the burning of Izmir. Here we have the text of a little seen
document from a witness which clearly absolves the Turks of any involvement in the
attempted destruction of the city.
are the impressions of Mark Prentiss, an American industrial engineer, who was a special
representative of the Near East Relief. Being in Izmir at the time he later wrote his
impressions. He also sent on January 11, 1923 a copy of this manuscript to Rear Adm. Mark
L. Bristol of the United States, the US High Commissioner at the American Embassy in
"... Many Armenian young
men disguised either as women or as Turkish irregular soldiers... were caught setting
fires Tuesday night and Wednesday morning."
everybody in America, it appears, is convinced that the Turks were responsible for
the fire which added the final touches of tragedy to the Smyrna [Izmir] horror. The
unanimity and firmness of this conviction surprised me at first, as I believe it
would have surprised anybody else, of whatever nationality or political allegiance,
who had recently come from the scene of the disaster. The motive, usually considered
of supreme importance in crimes of this sort, does not clearly point to the Turks.
They had captured Smyrna. The city, as it stood, was one of the greatest prizes ever
taken in Oriental warfare. The Turks had unquestioned title to its foods, its
commodities of all sorts, its houses. It was a store house of supplies most urgently
needed for its peoples and armies. Why destroy it?
was a matter of common knowledge, on the other hand, that the Armenians and Greeks
were determined not to let this booty fall into the hands of their hated enemies.
There was a generally accepted report in Smyrna, for several days before the fire,
that an organized group of Armenian young men had sworn to burn the city if it fell
to the Turks..
gathered by Paul Grescovitch, Chief of the Smyrna Fire Department, and carefully
checked by myself, together with information which came to me from other sources,
points to the Armenians as authors of the fire. The series of events which led up to
the final terror on the Smyrna waterfront, as I was enabled to follow them, began in
the first days of September, when Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, United States High
Commissioner at Constantinople, organized the Smyrna Emergency Relief Committee in
anticipation of what might happen in the city if it fell, as then seemed inevitable,
to the Turks.
USS Destroyer Lawrence, under command of Capt. Wolleson proceeded to Smyrna,
carrying this committee, of which I was a member. We arrived on the evening of
Friday, the eighth of September , in time to see the last of the Greek army
leaving the city...
of the most serious situations that confronted the committee was the possibility of
fire. This situation developed into one of extreme anxiety when we learned that the
entire city police department, together with nearly all the Greeks who were members
of the fire department, had deserted their posts and fled the city in fear of the
approaching Turkish army. I made it my business to make a general survey of the
situation, and I found that the fire fighting forces consisted of approximately
sixty men with two small station houses. I found two reasonably good fire engines
and about half a dozen hand machines that were used along the waterfront by dropping
an intake hose over the sea wall into the water. There were only a few buildings in
the city over three stories high, the great majority being two...
report has been widely circulated in this country to the effect that the Armenian
hospital, where some fifteen hundred refugees had gathered was burned by Turkish
soldiers who slaughtered many of the helpless occupants. The truth of the matter is
that on Tuesday, early in the afternoon, in response to an emergency appeal, I had
gone to the hospital accompanied by Dr. Post and two nurses, all of us members of
the Near East Relief Staff.
I was there a squad of from fifteen to twenty Turkish soldiers, under the command of
the captain, came to take over the hospital for Turkish military purposes. The
refugees were searched, as they came from the grounds, and arms of various sorts
sufficient to fill a truck were taken from them. All of them, men, women and
children, who had taken refuge both in the hospital building and in the adjoining
grounds were dispersed by six o'clock that afternoon. The captain in command had
written instructions from the Turkish commander to take possession of the hospital
and to prepare it for immediate occupancy. He told us that they would begin moving
Turkish patients to the hospital that night. He also mentioned that he had orders to
shoot the refugees if they had refused to disarm, and that he certainly would have
done so but for their unexpected docility in giving up their weapons. He credited
their willingness to disarm to the presence of the Americans, Dr. Post, the two
nurses and myself....
photo was identified in a Greek site as the city's Christian residents being
trapped between the flames and the sea. Waitaminnit. Weren't the Christians
supposedly massacred by Turkish troops? And weren't there any Turkish residents left in the city, who
could have been trapped? (Sigh.)
following morning, Wednesday, the thirteenth of September, the situation was
critical in the extreme. Paul Griscovich, Chief of the Smyrna Fire Department, told
me that he had discovered bundles of discarded clothing, rags and bedding, covered
with petroleum, in several of the institutions recently deserted by Armenian
refugees. Grescovich impressed me as a thoroughly reliable witness. I had met and
had a long talk with him three days previously, on Sunday morning. Fortunately, I
needed no interpreter, as he speaks English fluently. He is an engineer, born and
educated in Austria, and has been identified with several large engineering
enterprises in Turkey. Twelve years ago he became chief of the Smyrna fire
department, which he continued to conduct in a very efficient manner, for that part
of the world, during the Greek occupation. He told me that during the first week of
September there had been an average of five fires per day with which his crippled
department had to cope. In his opinion most of these fires were caused by
carelessness, but some undoubtedly were of incendiary origin. The average number of
fires in a normal year, he said, would be one in ten days, and the increase to five
a day seemed significant.
soon as the Turkish military authorities assumed control, Griscovich had applied for
additional men and fire fighting equipment. Instead of helping him, the Turkish
military governor, learning that there were still Greeks in the fire department,
ordered their immediate arrest, which left the department with only thirty-seven
men. Sunday night, Monday and Monday night, and Tuesday, so many fires were reported
at such widely separated points that the fire department was absolutely unable to
deal with them. They were extinguished by Turkish soldiers.
Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the Turkish soldiers shot down many Armenians
who, they claimed, were caught throwing petroleum and starting fires in the Armenian
quarter and also around the warehouses and station of the Cassaba Railroad. It was
on Wednesday morning that Griscovich himself found evidences of incendiaries. He
told me that early that morning had seen two Armenian priests escorting several
thousand men, women, children from the Armenian schools and Dominican churches where
they had taken refuge down to the quays. When he presently went into these
institutions he found petroleum-soaked refuse ready for the torch.
chief told me, and there is no doubt that he was sure of it, that his own firemen,
as well as Turkish guards, had shot down many Armenian young men disguised either as
women or as Turkish irregular soldiers, who were caught setting fires Tuesday night
and Wednesday morning.
11:20 Wednesday morning, at least half a dozen fires were reported almost
simultaneously around the freight terminal warehouses and the passenger station of
the Aidine Railroad.
noteworthy that these fires broke out in buildings which it was greatly to the
advantage of Turks to preserve, and to the advantage of enemies to destroy.
12:00 o'clock five fires were reported around the Armenian hospital. At about the
same time, two fires were reported at the Armenian Club, and a few minutes later
several fires started simultaneously around the Cassaba Railroad station.
after noon Griscovich, convinced that the city was doomed, again went to the
military authorities to ask for help, and again it was not forthcoming. It was not
until six o'clock in the evening that he was given a command of 100 soldiers to
serve under his direction and it was eight o'clock at night before the soldiers
began the destruction of buildings by bombs, in order to check the spread of the
in the afternoon, I was at the headquarters of Kazim Pasha; Turkish military
governor of the district, and from his window I could see smoke from several parts
of the city. I called his attention to this, but he assured me they were of no
consequence. He said that he had been worried about the possibility of
conflagration, and that his soldiers had received instructions to prevent it. When I
left him I made an appointment to return at five o'clock that afternoon but the fire
had spread so rapidly, the people had been driven from their homes down to the quay,
in such numbers and the panic was so great, that I found it impossible to reach his
headquarters to keep the appointment. During the afternoon the wind began to rise
and blow from the Southeast which I was told was most unusual at that season of the
year, and by night a perfect gale was blowing. People who had lived in Smyrna many
years told me they had never known a wind of such violence during the summer months.
Dense smoke and sparks were blown across the decks of the US Destroyer Litchfield,
which after midnight was anchored 780 yards offshore.
was not until three days later that I saw Grescovich again. He told me he had no
sleep for five days and nights and he looked the part.... On that, and several
succeeding days, we explored the great part of the burned area of the city, and I
made notes of the most important things he told me. Later, when Lloyd's men came to
ascertain the extent the damage, he refused to make any statements at all.
several weeks after the fire I had an opportunity to talk with many Turkish
commanders, and they were all of one mind in leveling either bitter or philosophical
accusations at their enemies for destroying the city. They were contemptuous of the
suggestion, made in a few quarters, that they had any responsibility for the
burning. "Why should we burn the city?" they would ask. "Smyrna, with
all its wealth and treasure, was ours. The fleeing Greek army had abandoned huge
quantities of military stores and food supplies that were desperately needed by our
armies and civilians. These have been destroyed, together with the warehouses and
stations where many fires broke out. Besides, the fleeing Greeks and Armenians, many
of them wealthy as you know, had abandoned everything in their homes and their
stores. We were in absolute and undisputed possession. Do you think that we are such
fools as to have destroyed everything?"
attention has been called to many statements published broadcast in this country
that the Turks were seen pouring petroleum around the American Consulate. I was in
the vicinity of the Consulate most of the time and saw no petroleum.
a fact worthy of attention of the honest historian that very few people in Smyrna at
the time of the fire, or during the succeeding weeks, believed that the Turks were
responsible for it. That the Turks were grossly...negligent in the matter of
ordinary precautions against an outbreak of fire, we all realized, and that they
were tragically inefficient in fighting the fire was obvious to us all, but I have
been able to find no evidence that either Turkish soldiers or Turkish civilians
deliberately fired the city or wished its destruction.
evidence all points in another direction....
The Turkish Times, Sept. 1, 1998
Mark Prentiss was
behind another article, from the Jan. 1924 Atlantic Monthly, called "Actualities at Smyrna." (On this page you can also read attempts by
pro-Armenians to discredit Mark Prentiss, and whether they make sense.)
The above is fairly intact, but the complete
version may be accessed in "Appendix I" of Prof. Heath Lowry on the Burning
ADDENDUM, 10-07: A version of a published newspaper article of the
above has been found; see link, page bottom.
|From "The Turkish
"The Turkish Myth" appeared in the June
13, 1923 issue of the American magazine, The Nation, written by Arthur Moss and Florence
Gilliam. For the full article, please click the link above.
Finally, there could be no more complete refutation of the
long-perpetuated charges against Turkey than the behavior of the Turkish army during the
recent offensive in Smyrna. All the events of this advance have been reported by British
and American papers whose policy has been consistently anti-Turkish. When the victorious
army entered the region, the Christian population, remembering the precedent of 1919 when
the Greeks slaughtered 4,000 Moslems, began sending out panic-stricken appeals for
protection, anticipating retaliation on the part of the Turks. And the Council of the
League of Nations at Geneva sent to Angora a mild request that no reprisals be made for
the Greek atrocities. A strange turn of phraseology: the League of Nations admitting Greek
atrocities! Gradually it dawned upon the Christians in Smyrna and upon the Christian
nations in Europe that no reprisals were to be made. But the retreating Greeks in complete
demoralization behaved so badly that even the efficient British censorship could not stop
the leaking of news. The pillaging and burning by the defeated Greek army grew to such
proportions that it was difficult for lzmet Pasha to restrain his troops from retaliation.
But restrain them he did, and his men behaved with such dignity and orderliness as to
profoundly impress Western observers. (How different from the actions of our own marines
in Haiti!) The first Turk troops to enter Smyrna were military police who prevented
looting and did their best to still the panic among the hysterical Greek civilians. The
correspondents of the Chicago Tribune, the London Daily Mail, and Reuter’s stated
emphatically that the unfortunate burning of the city was not in any way traceable to the
Turks. In spite of these reports by correspondents who were on the spot and who have no
reason to favor the Turkish cause, we still hear that the Turks burned Smyrna.
During the retreat, Reuter’s correspondent was warned by Greek officers to leave Ouchak
as that town was to be burned. I quote his dispatch from Smyrna: “The demoralization of
the Greek troops was complete and the behavior of most of the Greek officers disgusting.
On the retreat to Smyrna many Greek officers personally led the looting and pillaging.”
But it remains for an American official, a man sent by a great relief organization to help
succor the downtrodden Greeks and Armenians, to knock the last props from under the stupid
edifice of lies and anti-Turk propaganda. Colonel Haskell of the American Red Cross has
just returned from a tour of investigation in the Near East. Speaking officially he said:
“America should feed the half million Turks whose hinterland was willfully demolished by
the retreating Greeks, instead of aiding the Greeks and Armenians who are sitting around
waiting for America to give them their next meal. The stories of Turk atrocities
circulated among American churches are a mess of lies. I believe that the Greeks and not
the Turks are barbarians."
view from American writer, E. Alexander Powell
Now I can readily understand and make
allowance for the public's errors and misconceptions, for it has had, after all, no
means of knowing that it has been systematically deceived, but I can find no excuse
for those newspapers which, clinging to a policy of vilifying the Turk, failed to
rectify the anti-Turkish charges printed in their columns even when it had been
proved to the satisfaction of most fair-minded persons that they were unjustified. A
case in point was the burning of Smyrna in September, 1922. There was
scarcely a newspaper of importance in the United States that did not editorially lay
that outrage at the door of the Turks, without waiting to hear the Turkish version,
yet, after it had been attested by American, English, and French eye-witnesses,
and by a French commission of inquiry, that the city had been deliberately fired by
the Greeks and Armenians in order to prevent it falling into Turkish hands, how
many newspapers had the courage to admit that they had done the Turks a grave
E. Alexander Powell, "The
Struggle for Power in Moslem Asia," The Century Co., New York & London
(1923), pages 32-33.
|Stanford Shaw... on Izmir & Pontus
Below are excerpts from an October 21, 2002
letter sent to Governor Pataki from Yuksel Soylemez, which borrowed heavily from Stanford
Shaw's two-volume "The History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern
On May 15, 1919, under the protection of the British, French and
American fleets, a Greek army disembarked in the harbor of Smyrna (Izmir) and
occupied the town. Smyrna was Greek Premier Venizelos' reward for having finally
brought Greece into the war on the Allied side, and some thought its acquisition
might even mark the opening of a new chapter of Greek expansion. Three-and-a-half
years later these dreams were shattered; the Greeks' eastward advance had been
halted by Mustafa Kemal Pasha at Sakarya, and in August 1922 the Turkish
counterattack was launched and proved devastatingly successful. Now it was the turn
of the Turks, in hot pursuit of the remnants of the disintegrating Greek army, to
occupy Smyrna. On September 13, 1922, in the midst of the carnage, a great fire
broke out that destroyed more than three-fifths of the town. No one knew from whence
the first spark came; however, a secret letter from the Greek Committee to MAVRIMIRA
is rumored to have established the hour to ignite the fire. Who knows if it is true?
...While retreating from Sakarya, the Greek army burned some 100 towns in western
Anatolia and destroyed an entirely Greek and Armenian community that had prospered
in Izmir during Ottoman rule.
Stanford Shaw on Greek slaughter and killing
To quote extensively from historian professor Stanford Shaw, "Mustafa Kemal's
assignment to Anatolia was followed almost immediately by the Greek invasion of
Anatolia, this more than any other, stimulated the Turkish War of Independence. The
United States and Italy opposed the British and French efforts at the peace
conference to secure territory for Greece around Izmir. Legal justification for the
landings was found in article 7 of the Mondros Armistice, which allowed the Allies
to occupy any strategic points in the event of any situation arising which threatens
the security of the Allies'."
Professor Stanford Shaw
"The Greek armies landed amid a wild
reception from the local Greek population, with church bells ringing, priests
kissing the soldiers, and men and women falling to their knees before their
'liberators.' The landing was followed by a general slaughter of the Turkish
population. Greek mobs roamed the streets, looting and killing, with those Turks who
escaped being arrested by the Allied authorities. The Greek army began moving into
Anatolia, ravaging and raping as it went, with the local Greek population taking the
opportunity to join in the massacre. By the end of July 1919 the Greeks had overcome
the local Turkish defense forces and gained control of the greater and lesser
Menderes valleys, a far more extensive advance than the Allies originally had
intended. Greek atrocities, not only in the southwest but also around Trabzon, where
advocates of a Pontus Greek state had anticipated the arrival of the Greek army by
instituting massacres of their own to remove the Turkish population. Thus
encouraged, Kemal traveled through the east spreading his message among commanders,
governors, mayors and local resistance forces, with the Greek advance to the
Menderes strengthening both his resolve and the response" again in the words of
Shaw on the Pontus propaganda:
"In north-central Anatolia, efforts unfolded to establish a Greek
state in the ancient Pontus region, encompassing the districts of
Samsun, Amasya and Sivas. A secret Greek society looking for such a state had been
established in Merzifon in 1904, and it had developed into a widespread movement,
giving the Greek government a golden opportunity to press its claims. On March 9,
1919, British forces landed at Samsun and went on to occupy Merzifon, leading Greek
bands to revolt openly and to slaughter their Muslim neighbors in the hope of
founding the new state. Order was partly restored, but with great difficulty, by the
Ottoman police helped with some reluctance by the British."
History in a nutshell
"Origin of the term 'Pontus' is 'Pont-Euxin,' in ancient Greek which
is the Black Sea now. The emergence of Hellenic influence in the
Black Sea region can be traced back to the Ionians, who established Greek type
city-states in Sinop and Trabzon in the VI. century B.C. The Macedonian King of
Philip and his son, Alexander the Great, drove the Persians out of the Southeast
Black Sea Coasts and consolidated Greek influence in the region. Following the
takeover of Istanbul by Catholic/Latin Europeans, the Byzantines living in Istanbul
emigrated to the Eastern Black Sea region and founded the Kingdom of Pontus. Despite
the fact that it was unable to maintain full and effective control over the region,
the Pontus Kingdom managed to survive for some 250 years and later came under the
domination of the Ottoman Empire in 1461 following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih
Who committed war crimes?
Who committed "genocide" in the Black Sea region during the Turkish War of
Independence? Was it the Turks or the Greek bands? "In the first part of the
twentieth century when the Ottoman Empire was fast collapsing ethnic Greek
irregulars, armed and encouraged by Greece, operated in the Turkish Black Sea coast
regions. Banditry by these groups often resulted in the slaughter of Turkish
villagers. Some 40 ethnic Greek bandit groups plundered Turkish villagers and
murdered at least 2,000 Turks. After the 1918 Armistice Agreement, Greece and the
Greek community in Anatolia tried to take advantage of the weakness of the Ottoman
Sultan in maintaining effective control in the region and the Greek irregulars
attempted to create an ethnic Greek state on the Black Sea coast modeled on the
ancient state of Pontus. The American High Commissioner, Mark Bristol, in a report
he wrote after a journey along the Black Sea coast, drew attention to the anarchy
which the Greeks were fomenting."
"On July 7, 1920, the Athens Pontus Committee, in a memorandum delivered to the
Greek government, proposed that 20,000 well-equipped men from Pontus should be sent
to inland districts of Anatolia to support the invading Greek forces. The very fact
that the armed irregulars of the ethnic Greeks in the Pontus numbered 20,000 which
reveals the magnitude of the threat they posed to the Turkish civilian population in
the region. While public disorder persisted in the eastern Black Sea region, the
authorities of the Allied occupation forces in Turkey deliberately misrepresented
the precautionary measures taken by the Turkish security forces as 'genocide'."
Fictitious and fabricated figures
According to Greek claims there were 700,000 Greeks in the eastern Turkish Black Sea
region, and that 350,000 were killed. This is again a clear distortion of history.
"The population of Greeks in the region according to Greek claims of 700,000 is
far from truth and fictitious according to census reports."
"The King Crane Commission, authorized by the American government, reported on
August 28, 1919 that the estimated number of Greek residents in the eastern Black
Sea region was about 200,000. According to the Ottoman census held between 1893 and
1897, the Greek population was 193,000, as 322,500 Greek residents of the region had
emigrated to Greece."
Finally it seems unfair and unjust the allegation of a "genocide" of
350,000 Greeks is a fictitious and fabricated figure to many.
"History thus points not to the Turks but to the Greeks as the party
that should apologize for the war crimes committed during its
invasion of Anatolia and the atrocities committed by Greek bands in the Black Sea
region. Article 59 of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne refers to the war crimes committed
by Greece in Anatolia."
Holdwater; The Pontus Greeks had practice; a Pontus
rebel king named Mithridates butchered 80,000 Roman citizens around 88 B.C., later
to be stopped by the Roman general, Sulla. (Thanks to Conan,)
THE BLIGHT OF ASIA
"Blight" of the title refers to Turks. This rabidly anti-Turkish racist is the
perfect spokesman for the Armenian and Greek viewpoint (his words are naturally quoted on
their web sites.). See how Mr. Horton
reasoned why the Turks would burn their own city (followed by my own rebuttal.)
Dr. Georgios Nakratzas' Open Letter
The Greek Minister of Culture has put before
the Greek President a proposed law that would make September 15th a "Memorial
Day" in remembrance of the "Genocide against Greek inhabitants by Turkish
forces in 1922."
The proposed law refers back to the Greek-Turkish War. Such a gesture by the Greek
government would fuel nationalist sentiment in Greece and elsewhere in the Balkans.
Below is a letter from Dr. Nakratzas, which eloquently articulates this sentiment.
To Mr. Evangelos Venizelos
Minister of Culture
Athens - Greece
Rotterdam 10 February 2001
I was interested to learn from reports in the media that on 9 February 2001 you
forwarded for signature to the President of the Republic of Greece a Presidential
Decree, in accordance with which 15 September is to be declared the official day
commemorating the Genocide of the Greeks in Asia Minor by the Turks.
As Minister of Culture you will, I assume, feel a great respect for the historical
truth, and I ask you therefore to permit me to inform you of certain details
concerning the Genocide of the Slav-speaking Macedonians of Kilkis committed by the
Greek Army in 1913, in addition to certain information on the crimes committed by
the Greek Army in Asia Minor during the period 1919-1922 against the civilian
The Carnegie Report (ISBN 0-87003-032-9) informs us that the town of Kilkis was
occupied, intact, by the Greek Army on 4 July 1913. Having occupied the town, the
Greek troops removed the remaining residents and then plundered and burned their
houses. The Report also mentions that in addition to the town of Kilkis the Greek
Army also put to the torch 40 villages in the region, burning a total of 4,725
Of the total number of 100,000 Slav-speaking Macedonians who were thus obliged to
seek refuge in Bulgaria, the Greek cavalry caught up with 4,000 at the village of
Akangeli. 60 of the men were taken to a nearby forest and never heard of again. On
the following day, according to eye-witness accounts, the Greek soldiers committed
murder and rape and stole money. The committee were also given a list of 365
individuals from neighbouring villages believed to have been massacred by the Greek
army at the village of Akangeli. Finally, a European eye-witness testified to the
committee that on entering the town of Yevyeli the Greeks executed 200 Bulgarian
I do not know if this historical information will prompt you to recommend an
additional Presidential Decree concerning the Genocide by the Greek army in 1913 of
the Slav-speaking Macedonians of Kilkis.
As for the information on the crimes of the Greek army against the civilian Turkish
population of Asia Minor during the period 1919-1922, there is insufficient scope in
a short letter for a full description of the events involved.
I shall confine myself to mentioning in brief the massacre by the Greek army of
Turkish civilians at Aidini, Menemeni and Pergamum.
I shall also mention the slaughter of Turkish prisoners of war in Smyrna on the day
the Greek army disembarked in 1919.
Finally, I shall mention briefly the burning of thousands of villages in the areas
of Eski-Sehir, Uzak, Kioutaheia, etc., as well as the destruction, robbery or
looting of shops and businesses, and the seizing of vast quantities of livestock and
grain from Turkish villagers. For more details and eye-witness testimony I recommend
that you consult my book, recently published under the title
ASIA MINOR AND THE ORIGINS OF THE REFUGEES
The imperialist Greek policy of 1922 and the Asia Minor Catastrophe Batavia
Publications, Thessaloniki 2000, ISBN 960-85800-6-4
I ask myself if the information you will find in the book will be sufficient to
prompt you to recommend the appropriate Presidential Decree.
Dr. Georgios Nakratzas (The Netherlands)
P.S. For your information, a Turkish translation of the book mentioned above is
shortly to be issued by a publishing house in Istanbul (Constantinople).
|A Response to a Politician's Proclamation
N.Y. Governor George Pataki is yet another
American politician who loves to play ethnic politics. His shameful one-sided report is
covered on TAT in Inventing
history for political ends: N.Y. Governor George Pataki.
Here's a response from ATAA using
Western-oriented evidence that sheds a different light on this historic event.
The Honorable George E. Pataki, Governor of the State of
Executive Chamber State Capital Albany, NY 12224
October 11, 2002
Dear Governor Pataki,
I am writing to you on behalf of the members of the Assembly of Turkish American
Associations under whose umbrella are many Turkish American Associations from New York.
Our community is appalled and angered at a recent proclamation that you issued "in
commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe". This
proclamation is racially and ethnically inflammatory and filled with factual inaccuracies.
Its aim can only be to conjure up unnecessary hatred between the Turkish and Greek
American communities in New York and around the nation.
We cannot explain how such a proclamation can be issued by any public official. But when
it comes from the Governor of a State that is home to many ethnic communities, that
include the largest Turkish American community in the nation, it is particularly
While the inappropriate language of your proclamation is reason enough for a formal
retraction, we would like to point out a number of discrepancies in your Proclamation and
urge you to direct your staff to thoroughly investigate the statements being made and the
sources being offered to substantiate them.
Firstly, the name of the city in question is Izmir. Calling it Smyrna will
not change the fact that it is now, and has for a very long time been part of both
sovereign Ottoman and Turkish territory. We don't recall you ever calling New York by its
even more recent historic names. In fact this deliberate use of its old Greek name by a
senior US official is not only irresponsible but, is a cheap catering toward Greek
extremists who never have given up their scheming for a "Greater Hellenic
Secondly, it was the Greek Army who occupied Western Anatolia as of 15 May 1919. Although
the initial instructions of the Council of the Paris Peace Conference restricted the
occupation zone to the borders of Izmir province, the Greek Army started to advance into
Anatolia from the first day of their landing in Izmir. During this invasion and occupation
the Greek forces committed so many atrocities that the Paris Peace Conference was forced
establish a commission to investigate claims against Greeks. A Special Commission of
Judicial Inquiry, established following the atrocity reports, reached the Turkish town of
Menemen on 17 June 1919. The Commission was composed of Turkish administrative and
military officers, the British officers, Captain Charns and Lieutenant Lorimer, and
medical delegates from the British and Italian consulates in Izmir. They presented a
report to the commanders of the Allied Powers in Izmir. Some of the horrible details that
were stated in this report are as follows: "...From the unanimous declaration of
(persons) questioned separately by the Commission, it stands out clearly that the
Mussulman population of Menemen gave a perfectly correct reception to the Hellenic
occupying corps and that far from provoking them to the excesses, which would have been
reprehensible in any case, it remained absolutely calm and tranquil. The Greek
commandant's allegation regarding the shots fired on the Hellenic soldiers was denied
upon oath by all the witnesses without exception. The non-existence of Greeks wounded,
either civilian or military, as against a thousand Turkish victims, confirms the veracity
of the evidence. The massacre, the destruction and the extortion committed at Menemen by
the Hellenic soldiers and the native Greeks can only be imputed to a vile spirit of
vengeance and cupidity..." "The Greeks, to hide the proof of their guilt, wanted
to destroy the corpses. But the number of the latter being too great, for lack of time
they piled them by tens into hastily dug trenches, insufficiently covered with earth...The
massacres were not confined to the town. They extended also to the surroundings, to the
fields, the mills, the farms where another thousand victims may be counted. All the
buildings outside the town, as well as several hundreds of houses in the town itself, were
pillaged, sacked or destroyed"1 In the end, the Commission concluded that atrocities
were indeed committed and Premier Venizelos and Greek officials were warned by the Allied
Powers. During the debate on the report Premier Clemenceau of France noted: "It was
necessary to remind the Greeks that the Turkish question was not settled and to ask
Venizelos to state definitely if they could maintain themselves in Smyrna (Izmir) with
their own efforts." He also said, "The information received indicated that in
many respects the conduct of the Greeks had been abominable and that the Turks would never
accept the Greek occupation unless obliged to by force."
Clemenceau frankly affirmed, "The Council would be
more and more led to respecting the integrity of the Turkish territory. Under the above
mentioned circumstances, it would be well to warn the Greeks that they should not behave
as the conquerors of Asia Minor."2
The Commission concluded its report with some of the following comments:
"The Council agrees that the incidents, which took place after the
debarkation of the Greek troops at Smyrna (Izmir), appear to indicate an almost total
absence of the precautionary measures on the part of the Greek civil and military
authorities, which the circumstances required: this omission was the principal cause of
the unfortunate incidents reported by the Commission."
"It is our opinion that on the whole, the responsibility for the excesses committed
and for measures the severity of which were not justified by the actual circumstances,
rests upon the Greek military authorities. You (Prime Minister Venizelos) yourself,
moreover, with the loftiness and sincerity of your character, have recognised these faults
and these abuses, and have
ordered the punishment of the guilty."
Secondly, it is inconceivable that a victorious army would enter its own city it has just
re-captured and proceed to raze it to the ground. From a military standpoint it is always
the retreating forces that employ a slash and burn policy. During the Greek retreat, one
city, town and village after another was set on fire. The American Consul at Izmir, Loder
Park, who toured much of the devastated area immediately after the Greek evacuation,
described the situation in the cities and towns he has seen, as follows:
"[Manisa] almost completely wiped out by fire…10,300 houses, 15 mosques, 2 baths,
2,278 shops, 19 hotels, 26 villas…[destroyed]. Kasaba [present day Turgutlu] was a city
of 40,000 souls, 3,000 of whom were non-Moslems. Of these 37,000 Turks only 6,000 could be
accounted for among the living, while 1,000 Turks were known to have been shot or burned
to death. Of the 2,000 buildings that constituted the city, only 200 remained standing.
Ample testimony was available to the effect that the city was systematically destroyed by
Greek soldiers, assisted by a number of Greek and Armenian civilians. Kerosene and
Gasoline were freely used to make the destruction more certain, rapid and complete."
And "The US Vice-Consul Maynard B. Barnes, no friend of the Turks, admitted that it
did not seem logical for the Turks to destroy Izmir. On the morning of 15 September the
Vice-consul called with Captain Hepburn on the Vali (Governor) Abdul Halik Bey, and upon
Kazim Pasha, the Military Governor of the city. Captain Hepburn stated in his diary:
"The Turks had been so proud to have preserved Izmir intact throughout all the
devastation caused by the Greeks, but the Armenians and Greeks have defeated us in the
end" Thirdly, the Proclamation claims that: "Greeks of Asia Minor endured
immeasurable cruelty during a Turkish Government-sanctioned systematic campaign to
displace them". Yet history shows that this displacement refers to the compulsory
exchange of Muslim and Christian populations between Greece and Turkey imposed by the 1923
Lausanne Convention. Thus many innocent civilians, Greek and Turkish alike, suffered as a
result of Greek aggression and territorial ambitions in 1919.
Fourthly, in 1934, Greek Prime Minister Venizelos, nominated Ataturk for the Nobel Peace
Prize, observing "in the life of a nation it is very seldom that changes to such a
radical degree were carried out in such a short period of time ... these extraordinary
activities have earned him fame as 'a great man', in the full sense of the term.".
These are indeed grand statements from a Greek leader about a Turkish leader whom this
Proclamation claims lead the armies that 12 years earlier had allegedly committed
wholesale massacres of Greeks. I believe that as Governor of an ethnically diverse State
such as New York, it is your sworn duty to foster goodwill amongst everyone and that you
should not be playing policies on the graves of their ancestors long dead. You should not
give in to pressures by a small group of fanatics in some communities to attack another.
Americans of all ethnic backgrounds should be encouraged to take pride in their heritage,
but not at the expense of wrongfully slandering another group or carrying old hatreds onto
We as for an immediate retraction of this Proclamation and hope that an apology to the
Turkish American community will be forthcoming.
Dr. Orhan Kaymakcalan
Prof. Heath Lowry on
the Burning of Izmir
Who Set the
Fire in Izmir ("Smyrna")?
"Prentiss Blames Armenians
For Firing City of Smyrna"